Content Strategy

Content Marketing In a Down Economy: How to Stay Lean and Effective

Cierra Loflin
October 3, 2022

As we head into the last quarter of 2022, the economy is in a weird place. Inflation continues to soar, the Federal Reserve is battling it by raising interest rates, and everyone is concerned about spending. Consumers are tightening their budgets and businesses are following suit, which means leaders are looking more closely at content marketing spend.

Instead of pausing or slowing down content marketing, you should squeeze more juice out of your efforts. Activities should focus on high-ROI, long-term, and low-cost marketing tactics. Not to mention updating old posts to win back search traffic. Here are a few strategies you can implement as you wrap up the year and hit milestone goals.

Strategy 1: Engage in long-term plays

The first thing to cut is short-term, expensive tactics that target a wide audience. For example, paid ads with high-quality graphics are expensive to design and distribute. Pay-per-click ads have clear ROI, but they also have a high cost per lead.

Instead, teams should focus on long-term activities that target a small but engaged customer base. For instance, create a few well-researched thought leadership posts that speak to specific pain points from sales calls or online discussions. You can use these posts to generate leads and close deals months and even years later.

Another option: get in-house or freelance writers to create topic cluster blog posts that establish your site’s authority on a core competency in your industry. A few weeks or months later, you can rank for targeted keywords that will keep your site traffic at steady levels.

2x2 chart showing high cost, long-term ROI content vs high cost, short-term ROI content

Strategy 2: Go after low-hanging fruit 

Low-lift strategies like refreshing and updating content can be an effective way to get quick SEO wins. HubSpot found that “old content” or posts published in previous months made up 76% of page views and 92% of leads. Content updates work especially well for sites with a lot of search-focused content that can be re-optimized for keywords. 

Updates can include adding infographics, recent data, internal links to newer content, and alt text to images. As Matt McGregor explains in a tactile article about 10x-ing Shorthand’s blog traffic in 8 months, “I rewrote dozens of old articles. It didn’t always work, but when it did, the results were dramatic and immediate.”

There are many ways to repurpose content, such as distributing charts and visuals on social media, gating internal documents like your content strategy, or repurposing blog posts into mini-email courses.

More low-lift content ideas

In addition to updating and repurposing content, low-lift new content can help businesses keep a regular publishing schedule.

  • UGC content can come from responses from surveys sent out to your newsletter, online community, or industry experts. For example, form responses can be packaged into blog posts like Superpath’s $100k Club.

Strategy 3: Publish high ROI content 

Another time and tested strategy? Focus on retaining existing customers rather than acquiring new ones. Always think, how can your product help customers with their problems in this economy?

Content marketing is the only direct line of communication with customers if you don’t have a customer success team or sales team, so make the most of it. In addition to long-term ROI plays like SEO and thought leadership, publish new BOFU content. 

There are many avenues to do this, one of which is product-led, use case content. For example,  Notion’s Template Gallery helps foster a sense of community around the product and encourages people to use Notion for a variety of projects.

You could also create videos and tutorials talking about your product. For instance, Podia, a platform for hosting online courses, has a library of video tutorials showing how to use their product to solve common pain points. Not all of these are BOFU content, but many mention Podia’s tools as a way for creators to save time and increase sales.

Strategy 4: Clean up bloat 

In addition to tweaking your content strategy, content marketing in a downturn can mean scaling down operations and reducing reliance on vendors

“We cut back quite a bit on freelance writing spend in favor of doing more in-house,” says Camden Gasper, CMM at Particle. “We're making a much more concerted effort to repurpose content and get as much out of our investment as possible. We're also starting a program internally around employee advocacy, and part of that will be asking people to share content with their networks.” 

He also says he’s focusing on content ideas that speak to the business and financial side of their industry’s (IoT) products. 

Other content marketers are cutting agencies. “At our company, we're actively looking at ways to move more projects in-house and away from agency contracts,” says David Ramos, Senior SEO Analyst at AAA. 

“For instance, instead of hiring out 40+ articles next month, we're having one agency focus on producing in-depth outlines so that our writers can start chipping away at them. Strategy-wise, we’re still going after the same goals, just in a different way,” he explains.

Choose a strategy based on your needs

The economy may be uncertain, but the old rule of matching your content strategy to your business goals remains true. Whether you decide to scale back on vendors or prioritize long-term ROI content over short-term strategies, the key is continuing to do content in a way that drives the business.

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